Can Southwest Utah’s Water Supply Handle its Explosive Growth?

A remote corner of the state is the nation’s fastest-growing metro area, but concerns about water supplies across the Southwest signal an uncertain future.

1 minute read

March 5, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Town of St. George, Utah with small white church and red rock cliffs in background

Layne V. Naylor / St. George, Utah

The region around St. George, Utah was the fastest-growing metro area in the nation for two years running, reports Bill Weir for CNN. But with Southwestern reservoirs, mainly supplied by the Colorado River, at historic lows, local officials warn that the future of the region is in peril.

Can a heavily conservative, regulation-averse county support strict water conservation measures? So far, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District Zach Renstrom “has managed to help pass some of the strictest water laws in the West,” Weir writes. “In a bright-red county in a state allergic to regulations, there is a ban on growing grass outside new businesses,” and a home’s landscaping can consist of just 8 percent grass lawn.

Matt Rice, Southwest Region Director of the nonprofit American Rivers, told CNN that officials should focus their efforts on conservation rather than finding new sources of water, such as a proposed pipeline that would supply Utah from Lake Powell, which is at its lowest water level in history.

More on the Colorado River water crisis:

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 in CNN

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Urban sidewalk shaded by large mature trees

Cool Walkability Planning

Shadeways (covered sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate controlled walkways) can provide comfortable walkability in hot climates. The Cool Walkshed Index can help plan these facilities.

June 1, 2023 - Todd Litman

Traffic on the 405 interstate freeway through the Sepulveda Pass at Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California

Congestion Pricing Could Be Coming to L.A.

The infamously car-centric city is weighing a proposed congestion pricing pilot program to reduce traffic and encourage public transit use.

May 30, 2023 - Los Angeles Times

Denver City Hall building with green lawn and red flowers in front, Denver, Colorado

Denver Makes ADU Rules More Flexible

The city hopes adjusting its regulations for accessory dwelling units will make the process more affordable for residents and help ease the city’s housing crunch.

59 minutes ago - Denverite

Interstate 55 with cars and green freeway signs in Chicago, Illinois

Illinois Legislators Pass Controversial I-55 Road Expansion Legislation

Legislation to enable the addition of express toll lanes on Interstate 55 in the Southwest Side of Chicago, opposed by environmental justice advocates, cleared the Illinois General Assembly last month.

1 hour ago - Chicago Tribune

Close-up of front og MARTA public transit bus in Atlanta, Georgia with logo wrap

What Is ‘Arterial Rapid Transit?’

Atlanta is planning to build ‘BRT lite,’ a version of bus service that offers signal priority and fewer stops but keeps buses in mixed-traffic lanes.

2 hours ago - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.